One of the many young talents out of Chicago, Mick Jenkins has been releasing what feels like one raw tape after another. As part of the hip-hop collective Free Nation, things started quietly in early 2012 with The Mickstape, then The Pursuit of HappyNess: The Story of Mickalascage in August of the same year. Mick started making noise locally in April of 2013 with his third independent release, Trees and Truths. The strong connection Jenkins was able to make between his jazzy beats and raw voice with thoughtful lyrics stood out to many, including Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper, who collaborated with him later that year on “Crossroads”. It wasn’t until August of 2014 when Mick started getting the recognition he deserved. For his first mixtape after getting signed to Cinematic Music Group, The Water[s] Jenkins brought along big names, such as label mate Joey Bada$$ and local favorites like No Name Gypsy. He also brought on some of the fastest rising producers in the industry, including Kirk Knight, OnGuard, Statik Selektah, and DJ Daji. The Water[s] proved that Jenkins was here to stay, blowing him up on the national level while rapping about eye opening themes like problems in society, jazz music, and yes, water. He toured regularly and dropped singles; among these were “Leonidas” and “11,” but the most popular was “Rain,” with production from Canadian powerhouse Kaytranada. Soon, it was time for Mick to hit the release button on his highly anticipated debut EP.
At just nine songs, Wave[s] picks up from where Jenkins left off with The Water[s] in the most predictable way possible. The first song, “Alchemy,” was also the first single that was set to be on the project, quickly reaching over one million plays on Soundcloud. The beat hits hard and Mick doesn’t try to hide the importance of his audience needing to “DRINK, MORE, WATER”, in somewhat an awkward, out-of-nowhere tone. Fortunately, Jenkins absolutely murders the first verse with his aggressive storytelling, making any fan or listener anxious to hear what follows. Track two, “Slumber,” featuring Sean Deaux and frequent collaborator Saba, is one of the few songs I tend to skip when I’m shuffling through almost 70 Mick Jenkins tracks. THEMpeople, the producers of most of this EP, are usually on point with their instrumental skills, but this one’s just a straight mess. The drums get a little obnoxious and Sean Deaux’s autotune just doesn’t fit with the Mick Jenkins many of us know to love. The high point of this track for me is definitely Saba’s verse, which is not surprising considering he has always came through huge on guest appearances, (including a high profile guest spot on Chance the Rapper’s “Everybody’s Something.”) From here on, there really isn’t another weak point in the project. “Your Love,” with a beautiful instrumental courtesy of Kaytranada, brings out the never-before-heard R&B side of Mick. I feel like this is his attempt at a radio, almost pop type record… but it works, and it’s amazing. Jenkins completely surprised his fan base by singing and I hope he continues to throw in some melodic vocals in the future. Up next is my favorite song on the EP, and possibly one of my favorite Mick Jenkins songs ever, Piano. The beat by THEMpeople is incredible and Mick’s flow is so tight from the chorus to the verses that when played in the car this song forces me to turn it all the way up without hesitation. The closing songs don’t disappoint either. 40 Below, P’s And Q’s (along with a dope music video), then closing with another head-bobbing track, Perception.
Wave[s] definitely shows clear growth from a year ago but this is simply not as fantastic as The Water[s]. There are some low, average, and very high points to this project, showing its slight inconsistency with how the tracks flow as a whole. If you’re just finding out about Mick Jenkins, check out his earlier mixtapes, and expect his full length debut studio album The Healing Component in 2016. Catch his upcoming tour at http://mickjenkins.com/ and pick up a copy of Wave[s], because it’s worth the purchase.
Written by Dylan Hardin